MOSCOW (Reuters) - Global warming will sow destruction across Russia and ex-Soviet states, a report said on Tuesday after the world’s richest countries issued targets on harmful emissions that environmentalists criticized as too soft.
The 52-page report — written by green group WWF and British charity Oxfam — described a grim picture of social, ecological and economic collapse in the world’s biggest country and its former empire unless the world took urgent action.
“This diagram shows infrastructure collapse. When the temperature rises the infrastructure breaks,” WWF climate change expert in Russia Alexei Kokorin said holding up a diagram of the ex-Soviet Union swathed in bands of red, orange and yellow at a presentation of the report in Moscow.
Earlier on Tuesday leaders of G8 nations — Japan, the United States, Britain, Russia, Canada, Germany, France and Italy — agreed to halve emissions blamed for climate change by 2050, but environmentalists slammed the targets as too soft.
The WWF/Oxfam report on climate change in Russia and the former Soviet Union had been timed to press home this point.
Photos on the report’s cover showed a dog sleigh team panting against an iceless wasteland, a shrinking glacier, cracking mud in a dry river bed and a polar bear stuck on a isolated piece of ice.
Russia — which spans from eastern Europe to Asia’s Far East and is 60 percent covered by permafrost — is particularly at risk from temperature rises, the report said.
“We must understand that damage caused by climate change is here and now rather than a problem in the distant future, in distant lands,” WWF’s director in Russia, Igor Chestin, said in a statement alongside the report.
“There’s a lot at stake, including our health and even our lives.”
Permafrost will melt shifting critical infrastructure which creaks and crumbles, rising temperatures will kill vital crops and dry essential rivers and malaria and other diseases will creep north and infect more and more people.
The report also argued the cost of cleaning up worsening ecological problems will offset marginal savings from a lower heating bill in winter.